While there has been increasing interest in recent years in the welfare of farm animals, fish are frequently thought to be different. In many people's perception, fish, with their lack of facial expressions or recognisable communication, are not seen to count when it comes to welfare. Angling is a major sport, and fishing a big industry. Millions of fish are caught on barbed hooks, or left to die by suffocation on the decks of fishing boats. Here, biologist Victoria Braithwaite explores the question of fish pain and fish suffering, explaining what we now understand about fish behaviour, and examining the related ethical questions about how we should treat these animals. She asks why the question of pain in fish has not been raised earlier, indicating our prejudices and assumptions; and argues that the latest and growing scientific evidence would suggest that we should widen to fish the protection currently given to birds and mammals.
Table of Contents
1. The Problem ; 2. What is pain and why does it hurt? ; 3. Beestings and vinegar: the evidence that fish feel pain ; 4. Suffer the little fishes? ; 5. Drawing the line ; 6. Why it took so long to ask the fish pain question - and why it has to be asked ; 7. Looking to the future
Victoria Braithwaite is Professor of Fisheries and Biology, School of Forest Resources, Pennsylvania State University. Her research investigates the evolution of animal cognition, focusing on fish learning, perception, and memory. She sits on the UK Government Animal Procedures Committee, has published numerous research articles, and written for the broadsheet media including the LA Times. In 2006 Professor Braithwaite was awarded the Fisheries Society of the British Isles Medal.